Tuesday, 8 November 2011

In Country Training

I have been in Kenya for 3 days now.  Currently staying at a lovely hotel with other newly arrived volunteers for a week of In Country Training (ICT).  Previous to this the VSO training has not been "context specific" (a phrase we joked was used often by VSO trainers in the UK to get out of answering a question they didn't know the answer to).  On the training are eight other volunteers: 2 American, 3 Filipino, 1 Irish and the rest from the UK.  3 of the volunteers have already been in Kenya for a few months and are very helpful (and patient!) answering lots and lots and lots of questions. All together a great group of people I have enjoyed starting this journey with.

Lucy (our Swahili teacher extraordinaire) delivering a lesson.
ICT so far has included Swahili lessons, health and safety briefings, and cultural expectations and norms.  The Swahili lessons have been amazing - our teacher Lucy has been able to get us to learn so much in so little time. Have already decided to pool with a few other Nairobi-based volunteers to continue lessons after training.  Tomorrow our employers will come for the day, the purpose of which is to ensure that there is clear expectations on the part of the volunteer, VSO and the employer (what VSO calls the three-way partnership).  I looking forward to but also a bit nervous to meet my employer - I want to make a good impression and am also nervous to hear what their expectations are for me.  I've been told by a current volunteer that this meeting is really important to ensure that I communicate any concerns and expectations I might have with the placement - but I (and most other volunteers) have such little information about our actual roles that I suspect this will be difficult to do.

Coffee break from Swahili lessons at the hotel.
Have seen very little of Nairobi so far.  The hotel is in a compound (as I have learned most buildings are), but I have been to a local bar, a cafe and two shopping centres.  We are still very much walking around in a large conspicuous group and have yet to take public transportation - so lots of learning (and mistakes) to go with navigating the city.  It is rainy season which means that every afternoon it pours with rain for about an hour (but the rest of the time is lovely and sunny) which makes the dirt roads and dirt pavements quite muddy.  The main roads and pavements are paved, but side streets are not.  This afternoon Lucy walked us to the doctors office about a mile away on muddy roads in heels and didn't get any dirt on her whereas I walked in flat sandels and my toes were caked in mud! Think there might be a learning curve here!

Volunteers visiting the VSO Jitolee office.
ICT ends on Friday and Saturday we all check out of the hotel and head our separate ways to our permanent accommodation and start our new jobs on Monday.  I found out today that I and two other volunteers from ICT will be moving into a large house in a compound that already has volunteers living there which I'm looking forward to and will report back on next week...

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